Assessing sensitivity to Condition A in the case of Chinese reflexives

Jun Lyu, Elsi Kaiser


There are two reflexives in Mandarin Chinese, ziji (‘self’) and ta-ziji (‘s/he-self’). It is often assumed that ziji can be bound by a non-local antecedent while ta-ziji cannot. This is because ziji can be used as an exempt anaphor licensed by discourse-pragmatic conditions. However, prior research shows that, in contexts without perspectival cues, ziji tends to be interpreted as a ‘regular’ syntactically bound reflexive, exhibiting a similar locality bias as ta-ziji. However, prior studies comparing the locality biases of ziji and ta-ziji present divergent results. In this study, we report two forced choice judgment experiments to assess which reflexive, ziji or ta-ziji, exhibits a stronger locality bias. Overall, our results fit better with claims that in local contexts, ta-ziji is preferred over ziji; we find no clear evidence of ziji being preferred over ta-ziji in local contexts. Our results are compatible with the idea that ta-ziji, rather than ziji, is more constrained by Condition A.


Mandarin Chinese; reflexive; recency; locality; classifiers

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